How did you end up at Accela?
My entire career has been in services. I initially thought I wanted to be a researcher. I was in a PhD program at UCSF in Health Psychology, and I made money on the side by helping nurses get the stats for their studies interpreted. I decided I really wanted to be more applied instead of a researcher. So, I got a job with a healthcare software company as a trainer and project manager, and ended up as SVP of Operations by the time I left.
I was doing account management for a healthcare consulting company that was acquired by IBM. While I was at IBM, one of Accela’s board members contacted me and asked if I would think about coming over and helping them run a profitable services organization. After about a year of interviewing, we came to an agreement, and I’ve been here ever since… nine years, almost to the day.
In a single sentence, how would you describe the mission of the Services organization to an agency?
Our mission is truly to deliver the solutions that government agencies purchased from us and to provide the expertise to do it in a way that they’ll get the most out of it.
What are some of the changes you’ve made to the Services team during your tenure?
We’ve organized projects into tiers between strategic projects, enterprise projects and smaller, streamlined projects. Organizing our projects this way has made it a ton easier for our understanding of the projects we’re working on — instead of thinking of them all as the same thing but only different sizes.
It’s helped us hire the right kind of people for the projects we need to do. It’s helped us align skill sets and interest — not just geography. Actually having the strategic team has made things make a lot more sense. Now we have people hired specifically for the skills and time required to manage these massive projects. We also partner better with the sales organization, and talk in a different way about projects and opportunities than we did before.
Lee Ann demonstrating Services’ new and improved relationship
with Sales with Rob Cassetti at Accela Engage last August.
We’ve also invested in training and certifying people – making sure that our people and our partners really understand not only how the product works, but also our process to implement it. It’s made a big difference. It has aligned people and driven out mistakes that were made previously. And we’ve really accomplished this in partnership with the Talent organization.
Where are you from?
I grew up in the Central Valley in Fresno, and I went to school in the Bay Area. My mom was in politics in Sacramento, where she was chief of staff for a state senator for a long time. She just moved back to Fresno and is the belle of the ball! Dignitaries stop into town to see her. She grew up with no graduate education, her parents wouldn’t send her to college and she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.
When I was approached by Accela, I thought, “If I’m not in healthcare, I’d want to be supporting government.” I wouldn’t say my family ever thought my sister or I should pursue a services career, but we were forced to volunteer every summer. I’d hate it the first day and then love it and think it was my idea. We got some important lessons about being part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of Accela?
Wine! (laughs) I love to drink it and I love to give it away, and I love to hike and travel. I’m going to New York this weekend for fun. We have friends there, and we go once a quarter at least. I feel very fortunate in this career that I have friends in almost every city — and a really good catsitter. I also love to ride horses — I went to a dude ranch for my last big birthday.
I’m also a good cook. Every morning, I make cappuccinos. I like to read the paper and get settled before we take off. I cook almost every night when I go home. I stop and get fresh food and cook. Good Italian, good French. My mom recently gave us a homemade pasta machine. We make ravioli and we have a blast.
Lee Ann’s favorite trail in San Joaquin Miller Park (left)
and pulling out all the stops over Thanksgiving (right).